Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder / by Alexa Arnold

The first frosty flakes of the year are floating around outside my kitchen window, swirling in the garden and landing, like a blanket, on top of the few hardy stems of chard and kale that still stick up out of the ground. Other crops have been covered in an attempt to fight off the freeze, and the woody remains of what once was a windy tomato vine is reminding me that this is only temporary – though I've never experienced a winter as long and cold as these past two in New York. Nevertheless, I'm ready for the long haul. I'm curled inside on the couch, Orson's leaning his little head on my lap, and there's a big batch of this sweet potato, corn and kale chowder on the stove. 

Over the last few months, I've been trying to commit to making a big batch of something – soup, curry, salad, rice – that will get Grayson and me through a week's worth of lunches at work. For some reason, committing to this is harder than it seems for me, but I'm determined to build a habit out of it that sticks. Beginning with this chowder. This chowder is pure comfort – sweet enough to remind you of summer, but grounded by the heartiness of the sweet potatoes and kale. The coconut milk gives it a luxurious, creamy texture and the whole thing comes together in under an hour. I get a real kick out of making a dish with as few ingredients, and in as uncomplicated a way, as possible, and yet the full flavor of the end result makes it seem like this recipe must be more complicated than just throwing everything in one pot. But it's really that simple.

Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder

Serves 8.

Ingredients:
> 1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
> 2 cloves garlic, minced
> 3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
> 1 bunch kale
> 3 cups corn kernels
> 4 cups vegetable stock
> 1 can coconut milk
> 2 cups water, or more, depending on your consistency preferences
> 1 tablespoon coconut oil
> 1 tablespoon dried thyme
> Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic with the coconut oil, until soft and translucent. 
2. Add the sweet potatoes, vegetable stock, thyme and corn to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the coconut milk, raise the heat to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes. 
3. Using an electric hand blender, purée some of the mixture, but be sure to keep plenty of whole sweet potatoes and corn kernels in the mix.
4. Add the kale to the pot. Stir, and add as much water as you'd like to reach your desired consistency. I found that 2 cups did the trick.